caring for the environment

Name tags - labeling your clothing

Labelling clothes, be it your own or your children's, is very useful particularly if there is a chance a garment might be removed and mixed with other peoples. School jackets, jumpers, socks and even work uniforms can all get easily mixed up with others and potentially go missing. Fortunately, someone with common sense discovered that labelling garments would make it easier to identify them. Hence the 'name tag' was invented!

Traditionally, grandma would sew your name near the collar of a jacket but these days, there are lots of interesting methods of labelling clothes, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

A name tag typically consists of a label with your name (or your child's name) printed on it. Lots of companies online supply name tags in various formats. iFoundThis provide a limited range of name tags that also include the account holders unique identification code so the labels serve a dual purpose. The 'name' element identifies you (or your child) to other people that may know them/you, for example in a class or work team. The 'unique identification code' element identifies you as the owner so that the iFoundThis service knows who you are should your item of clothing go missing further afield.

Iron-on labels

Iron-on labels are usually labels printed on a special material that when heated with an iron, sticks permanently to fabric. A lot of iron-on labels are available in different colours and designs and they can usually be positioned anywhere on a garment which is a great advantage. They'll survive any type of repeated washing and are very difficult (near impossible) to remove. Of course you need to heat up an iron to fix them but to be honest, that's not really much of big deal for most people. They will typically last longer if they are positioned on a part of the clothing that isn't stretched. iFoundThis produces an iron-on backing sheet that allows you to position a standard stick-on label pretty much anywhere on a garment. The backing sheet provides a smooth surface for the stick-on label to adhere to.

Permanence Very high
Removable No
Water resistance Very high
Durability Satisfactory
Text definition/detail Very good
Wear resistance Good
Longevity Very high
Complexity of application Easy/average
Relative cost ££

Sew-on labels

Sew-on labels are usually labels that have text embroidered onto a small strip of fabric. This is then sewn onto a garment. Like iron-on labels, sew-on labels are permanent but they can also be removed later if required by removing the stitching. This is great if you might need to transfer the garment to someone else later on. Sew-on labels aren't always as durable as iron-on labels – it really depends on the material used and the type of stitching so it's best to check. They look nicer than iron-on labels though and give the appearance of a more premium product. The downside of a sew-on label is they require quite a bit of work and patience to fit, along with a steady hand and a basic knowledge of stitching. It's probably best to save these for very expensive jackets or something similar.

Permanence High
Removable Yes
Water resistance Usually high
Durability High
Text definition/detail Low
Wear resistance Good
Longevity High
Complexity of application Difficult
Relative cost ££

Fabric (write-on) pens

Fabric pens are pens that contain a special waterproof ink. The ink is usually resistant to normal washing machine cycles and all you do is use the pen to write a name on the garment wash care label (or on the inside of a collar). Because of how the ink is dispensed, fabric pen nibs are usually quite large so text cannot be intricate. You end up labelling a garment with just one monotone colour, usually black. However, they are very quick and easy to use. A single pen will also last a very long time and can potentially label hundreds of items. Be careful though as once you've written your text, you can't get rid of it. Not great if you want to transfer your item of clothing in the future.

Permanence Satisfactory
Removable No
Water resistance Usually high
Durability High
Text definition/detail Very low
Wear resistance Satisfactory
Longevity Satisfactory
Complexity of application Very easy
Relative cost £

Name tag stamps

Name tag (clothing) stamps are stamps that contain a wash-proof ink/paint that can be applied pretty much anywhere on an item of clothing. Once stamped, the ink/paint sets fairly rapidly and is permanent. They can be used very quickly and it's possible to wash the garment pretty soon after a stamp has been applied. Providing you look after the stamp kit, it can last a while but leave it alone in a cupboard for a few months and you may find the ink has all dried up. They are also relatively expensive to buy but a single stamp can label a lot of clothes so there is a quick break-even point when it comes to comparing one with say an iron-on label set. As the ink is permanent, it makes it difficult to transfer the garment should you wish to do so in future.

Permanence High
Removable No
Water resistance High
Durability High
Text definition/detail Satisfactory
Wear resistance Good
Longevity High
Complexity of application Very easy
Relative cost £££

Stick-on labels

Stick-on labels come in a variety of materials and designs. Some suppliers will allow you to upload your own photos as a background and others provide lots of interesting designs. Labels are usually applied to garment wash care labels because the surface of these is good enough to enable the adhesive to stick properly and survive normal washing machine cycles. iFoundThis recommend that stick-on labels are fixed to an iron-on backing sheet. The backing sheet basically provides a smooth surface for the label so it's likely to last longer. It also means a label can be positioned around collars, seams and hems so you're not just restricted to wash care labels. Unlike the other name tag methods, stick-on labels aren't as durable but this can often work in your favour. Being able to remove a label makes it very easy to transfer items of clothing in the future. And if a label is to peel off prematurely, you can easily replace it with another.

Permanence Satisfactory
Removable Yes
Water resistance High
Durability Satisfactory
Text definition/detail Very high
Wear resistance Good
Longevity Satisfactory
Complexity of application Low
Relative cost £

Each method has advantages and disadvantages so you'll have to weight up which attributes are more important to you. In my opinion, stick-on labels are always the best option because they are removable meaning you can change the design of your label later or remove it if you give your garment to someone else. If you decide to use an iFoundThis name tag, it's highly recommended that you also purchase the iron-on backing sheets. For more information, take a look at stick-on labels & iron-on backing sheets.

Written by
18th Aug 2019
Viewed: 413 times

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